This week we’re going to take a slightly different look at the previous weekends matches by focusing on the managers that are seemingly on the brink of losing their jobs. In a strange opening quarter of the season several teams have over- and underperformed with Leo Franco at Huesca being the first casualty of the season, who will be next?
Celta Vigo 0-1 Alavés
Alavés have made an incredible start to the season and find themselves in 3rd position after 9 matches and Abelardo has done an incredible job after taking charge when they were bottom of the league. The same can’t be said for Antonio Mohamed’s reign in Vigo. A brilliant win at home to Atlético in September gave the Celestes hope that they would be challenging for a European place this season but the loss to Alavés makes it only 3 points from the 6 games since that win.
Mohamed’s training regime has come under question with claims that his old school approach are leaving the team underprepared for their opposition and the team is badly missing Daniel Wass and Sergi Gómez who left in the summer. Mohamed has tried using different systems, three or four at the back, two or three up front and this lack of consistency has hampered the squad. Good performances from Fran Beltran and consistent goals from Iago Aspas and Maxi Gómez provide some positives but there needs to be improvement soon, otherwise the Balaidos crowd will turn on the Mexican manager.
Real Madrid 1-2 Levante
By all accounts Julen Lopetegui’s future at Real Madrid has already been decided. It is a question of when, rather than if, the former Spain manager will leave. Antonio Conte is the front-runner to take over but his contract situation with Chelsea is a complex one and the Italian is in no rush to take over a team that seems to be in total crisis.
Real Madrid finally scored against Levante, ending the terrible goalless run and the team had numerous chances to win the match but a combination of Oier Olazabal and the crossbar kept out Sergio Ramos and Casemiro. Bale and Benzema entered at half time and Benzema worked hard to change the tide of the match but it wasn’t to be. There is no single problem for a new manager to solve at Madrid with Varane and Ramos regularly embarrassing themselves at the back it seems impossible to stem the flow of goals against. The midfield is lacking inspiration and the forwards are not taking responsibility following Ronaldo’s departure in the summer. Barring a miracle (or two) Lopetegui is already gone, it is just a matter of how much more blame he will be left to take before a new man is brought in.
Villarreal 1-1 Atlético Madrid
Villarreal’s home form has been nothing short of disastrous so far this season, however, a 1-1 draw against Atléti maybe a sign of a turnaround. Javi Calleja has already been given the dreaded vote of confidence from the Villarreal board, who don’t usually wait around once their mind had been made up but there were a lot of positives to take from Saturday’s performance.
Injuries and player sales have left the Yellow Submarines with a slightly unbalanced squad, especially with the sale of Rodri leaving a hole in the midfield. Calleja set his team up to counter attack against Atlético, utilising the pace of Alfonso Pedraza on the left, but Atlético dominated possession and were unfortunate to go into the break without scoring.
Atléti’s goal came early in the second half and the Villarreal responded by substituting the disappointing Manuel Iturra for Carlos Bacca, reverting to the 442 formation that worked so well last season and the team looked completely re-energised. Bacca’s hard running and enthusiasm led to Villarreal’s equaliser but the Colombian forward was forced off with an injury after a 12 minute cameo. If Calleja is to keep his job he needs to be braver and a front two of Bacca and Gerard Moreno will force the opposition to think twice about attacking with too many players in support. Dani Raba may also be due a run in the first team after impressing at the tail-end of last season.
Eibar 1-1 Athletic Club
Rayo Vallecano 1-1 Athletic Club
After last season’s cancer diagnosis and failure at Sevilla Toto Berizzo was looking for a clean slate. After last season’s disasterous campaign under Cuco Ziganda Athletic Club were looking for a manager with something to prove in order to revitalise a young and talented team. It seemed like a match made in heaven and, to an extent, it still does. However, 17th position and only one win does not make for pretty reading for fans in Bilbao.
The Athletic Club squad has the quality to be challenging for the Europa League positions but Berizzo simply hasn’t got the team to click in a consistent way. Draws against Real Madrid and Barcelona are proof that this team has both character and quality but they haven’t won since the opening day of the season and a home loss in the Basque derby has left Berizzo needing immediate improvement. Away draws to Eibar and Rayo (rescheduled from the third week are the season) showed a team lacking ideas and inspiration and to state that they deserved the two points would be a difficult argument to make.
Berizzo has mixed and matched his defence and goalkeeper in almost every match this season and big money signings Yuri Berchiche and Iñigo Martínez haven’t played anywhere close to their full potential. This defensive frailty is matched by inconsistency in the final third. Iñaki Williams is a very good player but if he is to become a great player he needs to start scoring goals with much more consistency. Aduriz’s injury has hampered the team to an extent but relying on a 37 year old for the majority of your goals is not a foolproof plan. Iker Muniain seems to have recovered well from the injury that kept him out for a large part of last season and he has been the bright spark for the club despite playing as a winger, number 10 and central midfield in various matches. If Berizzo is to keep his job he needs to organise his team in such a way as to bring the best out of players that have certain limitations and he needs to do it soon.
Valencia 1-1 Leganés
Barcelona 4-2 Sevilla
Real Betis 0-1 Real Valladolid
Huesca 0-2 Espanyol
Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Getafe
Real Sociedad 0-0 Girona